Compare and contrast the development and practice of social work in England and one other European Union country and the value of this comparison to your own perspective of social work.

Compare and contrast the development and practice of social work in England and one other European Union country and the value of this comparison to your own perspective of social work.

This essay will firstly discuss the different welfare models that exist, secondly converse the similarities and differences of the development of England and Denmark’s welfare state. Thirdly view the development of social work in Denmark compared with England. Fourthly discuss the impact of globalisation and Europeanisation on social work. Finally, outline some of the challenges which are faced by social workers followed by a conclusion.  

There are three primary models within the welfare state. The middle European model utilises notions of social cohesion and solidarity. Within this model, individuals have opportunities for social integration and human development aided by their location within a civil society based on solidarity. From a social work perspective, this model conveys the solidarity of a caring civil society, additionally, enables people to arrange self help therefore social integration and human growth are “based on the idea of civilisation” (Littlechild and Lyons, 2003).

The Scandinavian welfare state regime (also known as the Nordic model) is an interaction of state socialism and market capitalism. It is based on the principle of social security for all which is provided by the state through comprehensive systems of national insurance and welfare services. Within the social work context, this model enables people to use the complex systems of benefits and services in relation to their rights and needs (Littlechild and Lyons, 2003).  

Denmark is a small European state operating the Scandinavian welfare state regime,which joined the European Union two decades ago. The development of social work in Denmark began in 1849 with the Constitutional Act of Denmark that confirmed that the state was to provide for citizens who were unable to support either themselves or their families. Between 1871- 1892, the Danish legislature was accountable for the various numbers of social reforms, and the process ended in the Social Reform Act of 1933, which moulded the foundation of the modern Danish Welfare state. During the twentieth century, this arrangement became subject to contestations. Based on ideas about the “moral differentiations” (Campanini and Frost, 2004, p 45) of the poor, those in receipt of support were constructed as either ‘deserving’ such as the disabled, ill or the elderly or ‘undeserving’ such as people considered to be “work-shy” (Campanini and Frost, 2004, pg45) This in turn, impacted on notions of the allocation of resources.

However, the Anglo-American model which entails managing and solving the problems of the poorest of the poor, can be linked to ideas about individualism and individual self determination. This model is cohesive with capitalism. Within the social work framework of this model, individuals are enabled to solve their problems by utilising various therapies. It is additionally, linked to the principles of human rights. 

The Anglo-American welfare state regime structure operates in Britain. While English state interventions can be traced as far back as the 1388 Poor Law Act, the historical early interventions in the lives of the poor in England were directed by the church and resourced through private charitable relief provided by middle class philanthropists. A series of Poor Law reforms during the period of the 19 century, which is dissimilar to Denmark, altered this top-down arrangement moving the onus of welfare provision away from the parish churches and onto the state, changing the form of welfare settlement from one that was “essentially individualistic to one that is, in essence, collective (Campanini & Frost 2004, pg 53). 

Before the mid-twentieth century, state intervention in people lives in England was determined by the twin principles of ‘least eligibility’ and ‘deserving’/‘undeserving’ poor, which is similar to Denmark, on the contrary these both derived from the 1834 Poor Law.  Welfare benefits were set at a level below that of the least well paid worker to provide an incentive to work and disincentive to be dependent on Poor Law relief. The poor were shifted into categories of “deserving” and “undeserving to target “benefits” and to avoid compounding the “faults of charter” (Campanini & Frost 2004, pg 53), which were alleged to lead to idleness, ignorance, immorality and dependence as the ‘deserving”  received “some form of aid” (Campanini & Frost 2004)In 1942 Beveridge made several recommendations and legislation followed these recommendations. There was a complete revision of the welfare system, which was based on ideas of collectivism. The Beveridge Act is an important piece of legislation and one that single-handedly created the modern welfare state. In 1948 the local authority personal service was replaced by the old Poor. Therefore, social work in the UK was developed as a philosophy of benevolence and the promotion of equality to be accomplished via the state supported by the government regulation of statutory provision and specialist professional interventions. 

During the late 1970s and 1980s the welfare state faced various spending crises and was subject to contestations from both the political left and right regarding efficient use of resources. The Labour party sought greater efficacy through increased political input, and more state involvement while the Conservatives supported a reduction of state involvement and more dynamic management techniques and most significantly during the 1980s and early 1990s, a market orientated public service (Campanini & Frost 2004). 

The market-model of welfare provision supported by the Conservatives was part of the political initiative to remove the state from the provision of services (Campanini & Frost 2004) and was based on the notion that “managing the welfare state is the same as running a business” (Adams, Erath, Shardlow 2000, pg 126). It reconstructed those using welfare services within a model of consumerism. In this, clients or service users are regarded as ‘consumers’, ‘service purchasers’ and ‘customers’. This interacted with a restructuring of welfare services and professional roles for example the transformation of the social work role to encompass care management: assessing need and overseeing provision.  

This was further complemented by the current New Labour government’s ‘third way’ manifesto, which led to additional amendments in the principles of welfare provision. The effects of the ‘third way’ are clear in the movement of focus away from the providers of care and onto “the quality of services” (Campanini & Frost 2004 pg 54). 

Social work education in Denmark began in the 1930s with the creation of two social work schools. The first was created by Alfred T. Jorgensen with the aim of the state engaging in more demanding ‘social work’ problems, so that the church could focus its efforts in ‘lighter’ areas for instance visiting the elderly and organising children’s activities (Campanini & Frost 2004). The second school was created in 1937 by Carl Clemmenson, a medical doctor, Vera Skalts a barrister and Mannon Luttichau a social helper and Denmark’s first paid social worker in 1934. 

The school was established for anyone who had interest in social issues. In 1942 the length of a course at the school was stretched to a period of two years. The school transitioned to the National School of social work in Copenhagen, and from 1957 the length of training progressively increased (Campanini & Frost 2004). Since the 1990s the curriculum has focused on four main methodological and theoretical areas including, Law, Psychology, Psychiatry and practical training, which apart from Psychiatry, is similar to that of England.

Currently, there are five schools of social work in Denmark, which have a total of 900 students every year. Social work education takes place over three and half years, graduates are then given the title ‘Bachelor in Social Work’. The school offers part time on-line studies; a Masters in Social Work and a three and a half year specialisation in International Social Work. At present, schools in Denmark do not offer a PhD level in social work (Campanini & Frost 2004). 

The emergence of social work education in England, are similar to Denmark, which began in the 19thcentury. Movements to identify and tackle the impact of a market based industrialised society gave rise to the Charity Organisation Society (COS) which aimed to reduce the poverty brought about by the “failure of the economy to create an equitable distribution of social resources” (Campanini & Frost 2004 pg55). The COS aided the establishment of education and training of its staff, culminating in the move to the new Department of Social Science and Administration at the London School of Economics. Previous forms of case work and administration created the focal point of the curriculum (Campanini & Frost 2004).

Subsequently, the 1942 Beveridge Report selected methods of social casework, group work and community work based on an “individualistic humanistic ethic and its associated values” (Campanini & Frost 2004 pg55). Education was separated between universities and education institutions thus there were diploma or certificate level courses. 

Unlike developments in Denmark, there was an ‘intellectual purge’ during which  the Central Council for the Education and Training of Social Workers (CCETSW) removed the social sciences disciplines from the social work curriculum thus  removing “the control of the academia over professional courses” (Campanini & Frost 2004 pg55-56). This was due to the consequence of Seebohm report which involved a number of students from a background in social sciences which coincided with the growth of radical social work. Subsequently CCETSW created a set of higher education courses and qualifications including diploma level as an initial point to the profession; post qualifying bachelor’s degrees and advanced, masters level degrees. 

Dissimilar to Denmark, from2003, professional qualifying training for social workers in England transformed the required curriculum to a three year Bachelordegree in social work supported by the General Social Care Council (GSCC). This degree course is governed in part by a “Quality Assurance Agency Benchmark Statement” (QAA, 2000) which includes two clauses (3.1.2 and 3.1.5) requiring consideration of comparative (European and International) perspectives “in relation to service delivery and research findings” (Lyons, Karen 2006 pg 370). The diploma in social work and all other predecessor social work qualifications have and will remain to be recognised as valid social work qualifications. ( 

Within Denmark there are different social work professions. Unlike England, there are social pedagogues trained primarily to work with children in institutions, among those with learning difficulties and those with drugs and alcohol addiction. Various social workers in Denmark are employed in the public sector, and most are employed by local councils, dealing with social welfare benefits and providing all social services. In regards to social work interventions, Danish social workers display an awareness of counselling and therapeutic social work activities and additionally focus their contributions on educational and pedagogical issues (Campanini & Frost 2004). 

On the contrary, some of the English interventions are care management, communication, collaboration, user involvement and partnership. Additionally, English social work places more of an emphasis on those who are vulnerable, such as children and families informed by the 1989 Children Act which enforces the protection of children as paramount by explaining social workers roles and responsibilities (Gibson, Grice et al 2001). 

Larger sectors of Denmark social workers place more of an emphasis on the elderly by working with them than Britain (Hill 1991). However, Britain social workers are starting to have more of an awareness of the importance of the elderly. 

Social workers in England have a more general professional distinctiveness: working both in organisations varying from statutory to voluntary and charitable provision. Additionally, social workers can be engaged in a wide range of tasks in a combination of situations for a number of employers. Further to this, social workers tasks in England may at times overlap within a multi disciplinary team.

The Welfare state constructions were formed by the globalisation development which can no longer be navigated by universal polices. Globalisation is built on the notions of free market global economy, its foundation are tightly associated with “neo-liberal economic policy which trusts in the blessing power of the invisible hand” (Littlechild & Lyons, 2003, pg 19). 

Denmark transformed the effect of globalisation into a strategy for survival, whereby it “changed and adapted successfully to challenges of globalization while keeping the core of its particular form of the Scandinavian welfare model” (Klaus Nielsen, Stefan Kesting, 2003 pg. 365-387). There is insinuationthat the changes of neo-liberal concept on Denmark economy can maneuver its political commotionthat defies significant factors of the model (Klaus Nielsen, Stefan Kesting, 2003). 

All citizens have equal rights to social security within the Danish welfare system; various services are accessible to citizens free of charge for example, the Danish health and educational systems. The Danish welfare model is subsidised by the state, and as a result Denmark has one of the highest taxation levels in the world. (,520325&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL)

However, within Britain, the effects of Globalisation have enhanced the significance for Britain of continuing to acquire a competitive advantage in industries with major growth potential as a means of improving living standards in the long term. Globalisation has engrossed the process because of the faster diffusion of technological development; – there is a need for better investment needed in high value goods and services, such as high and medium technology manufacturing and in knowledge-intensive service sectors.  According to ‘tutor2u’ the influence of globalisation on the British government has been a change in the corporate tax regime, improvement in labour markets and the welfare. (

Globalisation and Europeanisation are associated together. A study on Europeanisation was aimed to illustrate the different impact of European influences on member states.Europeanisation refers to Europe working beneath one umbrella, in harmony, furthermore, being one integrated community.

The bologna agreement is associated to Europeanisation. It is an agreement across Europe which is expected to harmonies social work training. It is additionally, of a global standard that is likely to develop compatibility of the social work program, and portability of qualification which is the future of social work. 

Dominelli and Hoogvelt identified that globalisation and its relationship has an impact on social work. Their views are that globalisation is entrenched in the practice of social work, in that it derives its traditions from an international exchange and movement of ideas. It is these ideas that are central to the creation of the purpose and features of social work practice, “its location within state welfare systems and its organisational delivery through bureaucratic agencies” (Adams, Erath, Shardlow, 2000. pg 5). Dominelli and Hoogvelt perceive the process of globalisation as influencing service user’s understandings of autonomy, the procedures of assessment and management in respect of those who are vulnerable due to new and different understandings of ideas about “free choice, informed choice, best interests, entitlement and preference” (Adams, Erath, Shardlow, 2000 pg 5). 

There are particular challenges, which face social professionals in the EU, they entail tackling the “increasing inequalities, marginalisation and social exclusion facing minorities in all European states” (Littlechild & Lyons, 2003 pg 31).

There are common problems such as social and political language, which aids us and activates methods for tackling these problems beyond certain societies where they might possibly arise. I feel by learning from each other we are able to engage in a dialogue about our practices and the values underpinning them. Therefore, by working beneath one umbrella all countries can tackle discrimination and oppression; hence we are valuing each others perspectives as well as uniting, additionally, enhancing effective social work practice. 

I believe that social work entails a overt understanding of how discrimination and oppression show themselves in society, specifically in regards to issues around age, gender, sexuality, disability, and racism, whereas within Denmark, social work conveys a duty to social cohesion and social solidarity. According to the International Federation of Social Workers, social work in being rooted in humanitarian and democratic ideals employs underpinning values of respect, equality and human dignity motivated by the human rights and freedoms of social justice codified within national and international codes of ethics (Littlechild and Lyons, 2003).

In conclusion, I feel by having a continuous dialogue between social workers in different countries we are able to learn from each other. The continuous dialogue might provide valuable scrutiny of each other’s work practices, help raise awareness amongst social workers in different countries on specific issues, ensure there is a parity of equality offered to service user group. British social workers should embrace the values of equality and solidarity of Danish social work and seek the importance of those values within the context of an anti-discriminatory practice. Britain and Denmark may have different approaches to and different experiences of social work practice however the common underpinning values of social justice and humanitarianism could exceed those differences and afford future joint working to explore the possibilities of humanitarian welfare provision that is not subjective to international boundaries. 


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